Nails and dispersion paint on canvas on panel. approx. 40 x 40 x 8,5 cm. Feld Uecker 87
Nails and dispersion paint on canvas on panel approx. 40 x 40 x 9 cm. The reverse of panel signed, dated and titled 'FELD Uecker 87' with directional arrow. - Minor traces of age.
With accompanying signed photo certificate from the artist, dated 2013.
Provenance: Galerie + Edition Wassermann, Munich (stamps verso); Galerie Tilly Hadereck, Stuttgart; Private Collection, Southern Germany
The three works “Diagonale Struktur” (lot 843), “Feld” (lot 844) and “Gespalten” (lot 842) give us profound insights into Günther Uecker's creative methods. From an early stage his entire oeuvre has been marked by an amazing clarity of composition and very precise statements. Uecker's use of the nail as his central tool and medium goes back to the late 1950s and has continued to the present day. Also, from the very beginning, other basic recurring elements of his art have been light and movement. In “Diagonale Struktur” the artist shows that movement can occur in places where we might not at first expect it. The nails are always lined up along a strict diagonal, and their direction is specified on the canvas by the pencil lines. Yet Uecker does break through the linearity of the arrangement by varying the hammering angle of the nails, so that the structure of each piece of work then depends on the viewing angle. As Uecker has explained in numerous interviews, his own immediate background and his personal wealth of experience have been important sources of inspiration for him. This is why his linear works reflect childhood memories of his time on the Baltic island of Wustrow: “In those days, as a peasant boy, I used to love running a horse-drawn harrow or seed drill all the way to the horizon in a straight line, without deviations. And I also enjoyed arranging a dung heap specially in the form of a cube. All this gave me great pleasure, even though it was hard work. After all, I was not brought up in a big city where I might paint myself in a colour TV - today at any rate - but I come from a different environment where we had our colour television flat on the ground, reaching to the horizon. That was our image of the world.” (Günther Uecker, Einführungsinterview, in: Stephan von Wiese (ed.), Günther Uecker, Schriften, Gedichte, Projektbeschreibungen, Reflexionen, St. Gallen 1979, p.97).
Uecker continued the strongly visual effect of his works in his “Feldern (Fields)”, created from the mid-1960s onwards. Compared with his Structure paintings, the overall impact is more organic and more mobile. Here the nails have been placed on a surface in a free rhythmic pattern, as illustrated in our “Feld”. The impression we gain is almost meditative, as though the nails were actually swaying to and fro gently in the wind. This effect is further enhanced by the alternation between pure white, the chamois-coloured canvas and the metallic grey of the nails. For Uecker, who has had an affinity to Japanese Zen Buddhism since the early 1960s, his use of white was a central decision that affected his work and his spiritual attitude: “I opted for a white zone as a culmination of colourfulness, as a climax of light and as a triumph over darkness. It is, I believe, a white world, a humane world, in which a person experiences their colourful existence and in which they can be alive. These white structures can be a spiritual language in which we begin to meditate. White, as a state, can be understood as prayer and, when it is articulated, can be a spiritual experience.” (Günther Uecker, Der Zustand Weiss, in: Stephan von Wiese (ed.), Günther Uecker, Schriften, Gedichte, Projektbeschreibungen, Reflexionen, St. Gallen 1979, p.104).
As we have seen, Uecker's artistic expression is always associated with himself as a person, his experiences and his sentiments. In the early 1980s we can see a new emphasis on the emotive aspect, and his imagery becomes more rugged, adding, for instance, an axe to nails as a design element. This turns his work into some kind of visual protest. During those years the artist took a keen interest in the vulnerability of humans and also their ability to inflict harm on other humans and on nature. “I believe, the artist is forced to give expression to a sentiment within him which may indicate fear - fear of being either hurt or destroyed as a person. It is the destruction of humans by other humans. For the artist it is a necessity and indeed an obligation to use this theme from his artistic repertoire to express the threat to humans and thus to create a dialogue which may serve to protect humans in their vulnerability.” (Günther Uecker, 1981, in: Dieter Honisch, Günther Uecker, Eine Retrospektive, Exhibition Catalogue, Munich 1993, not paginated) This idea is illustrated by Uecker in “Gespalten”. Movement still plays a major role but the dynamics of the black (!) paint and the fierce arrangement of nails appear rather more aggressive. The massive wooden board was split into two with several heavy blows of an axe, thus showing the vulnerability of the wood which can be understood as symbolising human beings. However, “Gespalten” can also be interpreted as an appeal to the good nature within the viewer. After all, Uecker's art is a sign of hope, as he emphasised in his speech when he was awarded the highly prestigious order Pour le Mérite for Science and the Arts: “Art cannot save a person, but it facilitates a dialogue that calls upon people to engage in an act of preservation.” (Günther Uecker, in: Orden Pour le Mérite, Reden und Gedenkworte 2001-2002, vol.31, Göttingen 2003, p.79).
>>> With accompanying signed photo certificate from the artist, dated 2013.
Galerie + Edition Wassermann, Munich (stamps verso); Galerie Tilly Hadereck, Stuttgart; Private Collection, Southern Germany